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50% of Small Businesses Do Not Have a Marketing Plan.

If your business doesn’t have a marketing plan, you are not alone. According to a 2019 survey done by Outbound Engine, half of small and medium-sized business owners admitted that they did not have a current marketing plan.

Even more than half -- 55% -- of those surveyed said they spent less than 5% of their annual revenue on marketing. A majority devote no more than five hours a week to it, with 86% preferring to spend their time on just about any task OTHER THAN marketing.

If you are starting to feel vindicated for your own company’s marketing shortfalls, consider one more finding. Investing as little as 5% of annual revenue on marketing can fuel meaningful revenue growth. Done right, in other words, marketing can help your business grow.

The question, of course, is: How do we know if we’re doing it right? That’s where a marketing plan comes in.

Here are several reasons why you need one – and how it can help.

  1. A marketing plan helps you organize your thoughts and set goals.
    The very act of creating a marketing plan has great value. It forces you and your team to think about your products and services and consider how you might get them in front of more customers and prospects. A good marketing plan goes a step further and establishes measurable goals. By setting concrete targets for sales and other metrics, you will be better able to evaluate the return on your marketing investment.

  2. It puts your whole team on the same page.
    Business owners who give employees vague instructions to “increase sales” or “find new customers” are a lot like basketball coaches who exhort their teams to “score points” and “win the game.” Neither provides a game plan, leaving team members wondering where to start. A written marketing plan, on the other hand, is like a playbook. It lays out the strategies, messages, tactics and tools the team needs to execute your strategies and meet your objectives.

  3. It forces you to set priorities.
    Because time and money are both in limited supply, a marketing plan makes you consider your resources and set priorities on how they are best used each day. Employees who understand your priorities will also be in a better position to manage their time and focus their efforts on activities that deliver the results you seek.

  4. It helps to build your brand.
    To create a successful business, employees, contractors and partners must all understand their role in your company’s mission. Do you want your business to be the biggest of its kind? The fastest growing? Do you want to be known for exceptional customer service? High quality products? Long-tenured employees? Whatever your objectives are, your marketing should support them and reinforce the image you wish to create for your brand. A marketing plan can provide an everyday reminder and measuring stick to confirm that your marketing decisions reflect your brand and overall business strategy.

  5. It enables you to make smarter spending decisions.
    Business owners who operate without marketing plans tend to rely on their guts – or their fears – when deciding where and how to spend marketing dollars. The fact that a competitor runs an ad in an online holiday guide, for example, does NOT mean that a similar ad is a good investment for your business. With a marketing plan, you can assess individual opportunities against the strategies your team has agreed upon. When an unexpected “deal” presents itself, you and designated staffers can better judge whether it is worth pursuing.

  6. It can produce better-educated customers.
    A marketing plan doesn’t only help you make more effective business decisions. It also makes your customers and prospects better consumers. Afterall, if your target market doesn’t understand what makes your products and services different from your competitors, any added value you offer is essentially wasted. Marketing can be used to educate customers, introduce them to new features or applications, or teach them how to evaluate alternatives. Education is a form of marketing.

  7. It can increase customer engagement.
    For many businesses, the key to success is building long-term relationships with customers. That requires communicating and engaging with customers and prospects through a variety of channels. Social media, e-commerce, special events and promotions can help keep customers engaged and interested in your business when they are not in your store or office. But little engagement happens by accident or without a plan to drive it.

Ultimately, a marketing plan has a singular purpose: to improve your bottom line. By laying out a cohesive strategy for attracting customers and providing the tools needed to increase sales, it can do just that.

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1 Southern, Matt. (May 20, 2019). “50% of Small Businesses Do Not Have a Marketing Plan.” Search Engine Journal